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The 411 on 911: How to Keep Calm When You Call

The 411 on 911: How to Keep Calm When You Call

As six-year-old Cole Steffens’ father administered a modified Heimlich maneuver to his 17-month-old daughter Bailey, young Cole calmly called 911. He told the dispatcher his address, spelled his last name, and said his baby sister was choking on a pretzel. “It was kinda scary for my whole body,” said the little hero, “but it wasn’t really scary for my head or my brain.” 

Every year, 10,000 kids end up in the ER from choking-related injuries. Luckily Cole’s father dislodged the pretzel stuck in Bailey’s throat before rescuers arrived. Could you stay as cool as Cole in an emergency? It’s tough when adrenaline is cruising through your bloodstream, but here’s a rundown of the rules to follow in the event of an emergency:

  • Make learning how to call 911 a family activity. Rehearse it until everyone is comfortable.
  • In an emergency, dial 911 and give your name, spell it and say the location of the emergency. 
  • Describe the emergency: first the injury or danger, then any perpetrators, if involved.
  • Do not hang up until you’re told it’s OK to do so.
  • Open your front door or send someone, if available, to flag down responders.

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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